Jeffrey Kieft and colleagues at the University of Colorado have determined the complete three-dimensional crystal structure of the internal ribosome entry RNA site (IRES) from a member of the Dicistroviridae family. With the first complete three-dimensional structure of an IRES RNA solved, this is the first of its kind and allows for further investigations into the mechanism by which the IRES operates, at a level of detail not before possible. IRES RNA sequences are critical for infection of many pathogenic viruses including hepatitis C and A, polio virus, foot-and-mouth-disease virus, encaphalomyocarditis virus and HIV (among others).
Applications for Dr. Kieft’s discovery include design of novel antiviral compounds, structure-based drug design, and agricultural insect pest control (e.g., taura syndrome disease in shrimp).
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